Celebrating freedom doesn’t feel like anything special until you consider the impact and consequences of slavery. Most of us have never felt the physical bondage of being a slave, yet we can relate to the concept of being bound to a job, working paycheque to paycheque, or being unable to get the things we need or want because we can’t afford it. Poverty has many similarities to slavery, particularly in the hopelessness and despair it perpetuates. And while some of us believe we’re above its clutches, we function more like the working poor as we continue making decisions which keep us indebted to others for our existence.
As we prepare for the celebration of Emancipation Day here in Trinidad and Tobago, it’s a good time to take a look at freedom, financial and otherwise, and what it means. A quick search for a definition of the word freedom reveals two meanings. The first is “the ability to act, speak, or think as one wants.” The second is “the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.”
Many people consider entrepreneurship as a sure way toward financial freedom. They look at it as investing in self and moving forward on one’s own dreams. Yet we must be careful not to trade one prison for another. The whole point of freedom is to have a choice, to be able to make a decision about what you want to do, and not to be forced in any direction. The problem many new and emerging business owners make is that they take the same attitudes they had while being an employee into their business or entrepreneurial ventures. That, unfortunately, does not serve them well.
“No form of freedom is ever won through mistrust and uncertainty.”
The lyrics from Redemption Song, by Bob Marley, point us toward the kind of freedom which can only be won from within. “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.” Whether we admit it or not, far too many of us are locked in mental slavery, allowing our thoughts and negativity to keep us where we are. So we step out on our own, but with hesitation, reservation, and fear. No form of freedom is ever won through mistrust and uncertainty. You have to wake up and turn up in order to rise up.
What is holding you back from doing the things you want to do? What is stopping you from achieving your goals? Is it fear? Fear of making mistakes? Fear of scarcity? Fear of being laughed at for your ideas? Fear of the unknown?
“You have to wake up and turn up in order to rise up.”
You are free. You are free right now. You are free right now to make the decisions that will ensure a brighter future for you, your family, your community. You see, another thing about freedom, is that with freedom comes responsibility. When you are free to make your own choices, you are also free to face the consequences of those choices. Understanding this about freedom is, in itself, the single most defining thing about truly being free.
So think about this as you observe or participate in the festivities come August 1st. Do not fear responsibility. Instead, use it to feel empowered.
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Shelley-Ann Edwards-Barran is a writer, editor, writing coach, speaker, and advocate for better writing instruction. She is the CEO of WERD Coach Ltd., a company dedicated to helping writers at many levels – children, academics, authors.